Canada supports Bolivia’s newly declared interim president, whose ascendance to power follows a tangled — and bloody — political crisis.
“Canada supports an institutional solution that will allow for a temporary caretaker administration to prepare for new elections and avoid a power vacuum,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson John Babcock said in an email statement to Global News.
The statement added that Canada is monitoring the situation “very closely” and encourages the country to hold democratic elections as soon as possible. Amid the political turbulence, the government also said all non-essential travel to Bolivia should be avoided.
“Bolivians deserve to have their voices heard and democratic rights respected, and it is critical that free and fair elections be held as quickly as possible. Canada stands ready to support those efforts,” it read.
Jeanine Añez claimed the interim presidency of the country on Nov. 12.
It was days after former leader Evo Morales fled to Mexico after his 14-year socialist rule ended in allegations of election vote-rigging and violent protests.
Añez, who has the support of the country’s military and police, said her assumption of the role was in line with the constitution, as those ahead of her in the line of succession quit in the wake of massive protests.
Swearing to bring democracy back to the country, Añez moved swiftly to appoint a number of new officials to top positions but vowed to promptly hold new elections.
Her assumption of the role was rejected by left-leaning, pro-Morales politicians, who tried to boycott her formal claim to the presidency.
The support of the Canadian government has prompted disagreement from New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, who tweeted about the issue on Thursday.
“The worsening situation in Bolivia is alarming,” Singh wrote.
“Instead of supporting the self-proclaimed interim president that has a history of attacking Indigenous people, Canada must condemn the anti-democratic actions that led to this coup and are still getting worse.”
Singh added that the Canadian government should support an election in the country that includes all parties.
“The gains Bolivia made under the Morales government, in terms of the rights of Indigenous peoples, health and development, must not be lost — and the safety of Morales & his colleagues must be assured,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, the United States has been more forthcoming in its support of Añez.
The U.S. did not hesitate to acknowledge the South American nation’s new interim president. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his support to Añez on Wednesday.
“The United States applauds Bolivian Sen. Jeanine Añez for stepping up as interim president of state to lead her nation through this democratic transition, under the constitution of Bolivia and in accordance with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Morales has called for the United Nations, and possibly Pope Francis, to mediate in the nation’s political crisis. He called his ouster a coup d’etat.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Morales said he is in fact still the president of Bolivia since the country’s Legislative Assembly has not yet accepted his resignation, which he presented Sunday at the urging of military leaders following weeks of protests against a re-election that his opponents called fraudulent.
“The assembly has to reject or approve the resignation,” which it has not done, he said. “If they don’t approve or reject it, I can say that I am still president.”
— With files from the Associated Press, Reuters